Look Into The Future, by Journey
Only one year after their debut, Journey recorded eight songs for their follow-up album. It is unclear if the band itself was aiming for pop success, but at least in terms of the runtime of the songs, at least half of the songs–all in the first half of the album–clocked in at around 3 to 4 minutes apiece and were thus theoretically possible releases to radio at the time, while the band’s longer songs were concentrated at the back of the album. We know, retrospectively, that the album was not successful, and that it remains so, with no song having even been streamed 300,000 times on Spotify worldwide, showing an immense lack of interest in the general public in this album at the time and today. Is this obscurity deserved though? Does this album deserve to be forgotten or is it an album that would be enjoyed by the right audience if only that audience was familiar with the work? Let’s find out.
“On A Saturday Nite” begins the album with a bit of hard-rock drive in service a tune that seeks to provide a comforting look at a life full of struggles and loneliness. The song sounds like something Kiss would have been recording with success at the same time. “It’s All Too Much” changes gears with a song that is a complaint about the difficulties of coping with a particularly desirable partner, combined with some beautiful rock instrumentation. “Anyway” has somewhat basic lyrics about a relationship that is combined with gorgeous rock instrumentation and excellent production that makes good use of negative spaces besides the usual virtuosic solos. “She Makes Me (Feel Alright)” clocks in at just over 3 minutes, the shortest song here, and it provides pretty basic praise to a lover who makes one feel good, combined with the usual stellar instrumentation. “You’re On Your Own” begins with a beautiful progressive rock instrumental solo before some rather repetitive and basic lyrics that deal with a dysfunctional relationship with an indecisive lover who is cast to the streets. “Look Into The Future” is more than eight minutes long, and is a languid and reflective song full of thoughtful and pensive lyrics about the narrator’s uncertainty about the future combined with commitment to returning home to a distant lover. “Midnight Dreamer” begins with some basic singing and is then followed by a prog rock instrumental solo that then blends into a gorgeous guitar solo. “I’m Gonna Leave You” closes the album with a gorgeous blues rock instrumental combined with more basic lyrics sung about a dysfunctional relationship.
In listening to this album, it is pretty clear why it has never been a popular one. The instrumentals are excellent throughout, but the album is held back by its basic singing. The lead singer is no Robert Plant–much less a Steve Perry–but the fans of this particular material were already listening to their Led Zeppelin albums over and over again and were not at all interested in listening to a band that was at least a reasonable facsimile of what they were already enjoying. Journey suffered during this time because their lead singer was content to sing basic blues rock over some stellar instrumentation and the singing and lyrics were holding the group back from success they easily enjoyed later on once they had a compelling lead singer who was able to give them an original identity. That is all that the band lacks, and that makes this album’s title particularly and painfully ironic. In making this album, the band was looking at the present to Led Zeppelin and made an album like the largely forgotten blues rock albums of Fleetwood Mac, and like that band, it would take a change in lead singers to send them to mainstream success.